Governor Scott Walker has released dozens of documents that detail staff discussions about changes to the University of Wisconsin System’s mission statement, just hours after a judge ordered them to be made public.
The 82 pages of documents were released late Friday afternoon, after a Dane County circuit judge found the Walker administration improperly withheld the records requested by the Center for Media and Democracy, a liberal advocacy group.
Walker’s office had tried to argue the information was not covered under the state’s open records law because they were “deliberative” in nature – an argument Judge Amy Smith rejected in her ruling.
The email exchanges and attachments detail discussions about changes to the UW, including controversial alterations to the Wisconsin Idea that would have removed it from the System’s mission statement. Walker proposed the change in his budget, but later removed it amid widespread criticism and after claiming it was a “drafting error.” The documents released Friday show was aware the changes were being considered before they were included in the proposal that was released to the public.
In a statement, Walker spokesman Tom Evenson said “Governor Walker is committed to openness and transparency in government, which is why we are immediately releasing the records involved in this case. We appreciate the clarification and guidance provided by the court’s decision, which were necessary to confirm the types of drafts that are not records. We will continue to comply with the public records law.”